Onugbu (Bitterleaf) Soup Is An Anambra Delicacy – Amara Vicks


Umunne m na umunna m, the long awaited ‪#‎SOUP‬ is finally here. As Almighty WHO say red meat no good for us again, the soup had to be made with afò anų (shaki or tripe) and ųkwų efi (cow leg). Mrs Vicks had to be up around 5:00 AM to make this specialty, going between getting the little ones ready for school and soup making. Don’t ask me why I had start early cos I don’t know. I guess it was because sleep ran away from my eyes after yours truly woke up to get ready for work.

Making this soup got me thinking. I remember the days when I was much younger. When we bought onugbu from the market it was very well washed. All my mum had to do was boil it for a few minutes before cooking. I don’t remember her battling to get rid of the the sand in the onugbu by washing ( or would I say asking us to wash) the onugbu several times.

Ofe Onugu - Courtesy of Amara Vicks2

When my mum would make onugbu in the village – you know, onugbu is an Anambra delicacy and every family I know in my hometown made it during festivities- the onugbu would have to be washed at home and I was the onugbu washer for my family. So, during Christmas it was almost always certain I would be the one to wash the onugbu, as much as I hated doing that. I remember I did a very good job. You did not need to boil “my” onugbu before using it for the soup. I think it was the reason I was the chosen one when it came to onugbu washing.

Unfortunately, nowadays, onugbu washing has become “oyibonized” like most things in Naija. I doubt anyone wastes their time anymore trying to wash out the bitterness of the onugbu. When I cook onugbu now, I have to boil it for hours first and then wash for hours. It seems the sellers barely wash it before bringing to the market. And worst of all, it seems that they added several cups of sand to the leaves after the oyibo washing.

I’m still cracking my head to find a possible reason for that or is it just the way Lagosians do it ( you know I grew up in the East and lived there all the time I was back home). Whatever is the case, it is just annoying to spend so much time trying to get rid of so much sand from the leaves. But that na tori for another day

Long story short, the soup is ready and yours truly will eat it with “alacrity” today. I just have to make sure I make the fufu by myself so I can “ration” it well for him. You know, as you get older, you should start watching the amount of food you eat especially at night.


Amara Vicks